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Land of Our Fathers?... Women and the Coalfield
Section 1: How has the ‘story’ of women been presented?

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In order to answer the above question, look at the two chronologies by clicking on ‘Typical Chronology’ and ‘Another Chronology’. The first is adapted from a combination of school textbooks and the second from the opening pages of Our Mothers’ Land, by Angela John.

You are not expected to recognise all of the events described. Instead, try to identify the kinds of entries used in each case.

Chronologies of Welsh History 1850-1940

A Typical Timeline (Adapted from Wales 1880-1914 and Wales Between the Wars, edited by Trevor Herbert and Gareth Elwyn Jones)
 

Year  Events and Developments
1880 General Election. Liberals win 29 of 33 Welsh seats

Formation of Welsh Rugby Union

Creation of National Eisteddfod Association



1885
 
General Election. Liberals win 30 of 34 Welsh seats

First Siemens open-hearth furnace at Brymbo

1886
 
General Election. Liberals win 25 of 36 Welsh seats
Creation of Liberal Federations of North and South Wales.
1887 Formation of Ocean Coal Company
 
1890
 
Lloyd George becomes MP for Caernarfon Boroughs
1891
 
O.M.Edwards founds Cymru (magazine)
1892
 
General Election. Liberals win 31 of 34 Welsh seats
Launch of Cymru Fydd.
1893
 
Charter for University of Wales
Cilfynydd colliery disaster – 250 killed.
1895
 
General Election. Liberals win 25 of 34 Welsh seats.
1898 Six months stoppage in coal industry

Formation of South Wales Miners’ Federation

 

1899 Death of Tom Ellis
1900 General Election. Liberals win 28 of 34 Welsh seats.
Keir Hardie elected ILP MP for Merthyr

Start of Penrhyn Quarry dispute

 

1904 Start of religious revival under Evan Roberts
1905 Wales defeat All Blacks in Cardiff
Cardiff achieves city status.
1906 General Election. Liberals win 33 of 34 Welsh seats.
1910 Cambrian colliery dispute – Tonypandy Riots
1913 Senghennydd colliery diaster – 439 killed
1914 Freddie Welsh becomes lightweight champion of the world
Outbreak of First World War.
1921 Miners defeated in mass lock-out – wages reduced
1925 Formation of Plaid Cymru
1926 General Strike and Miners’ Lock-out ends in defeat, lower wages and longer hours for miners.
 
1927
 
First Hunger March against unemployment leaves South Wales.
1930
 
Height of mass unemployment in South Wales.
1934 Height of conflict between South Wales Miners’ Federation (SWMF) and company unionism.
 
1935
 
Stay-down strikes at South Wales collieries.
1936
 
Welsh volunteers join International Brigade to fight in Spanish Civil War
1939 Outbreak of Second World War.


Another Timeline (Adapted from Our Mothers’ Land, edited by Angela V. John)
 

Year  Events and Developments
1852 Lady Charlotte Guest runs world’s largest ironworks at Dowlais
1866 First women’s suffrage petition
1871 Rose Crawshay is first woman in Wales to sit on one of new School Boards
1876 British Women’s Temperance Association formed
1880s Expansion of opportunities for women in Welsh higher education
1885 Frances Hoggan registers as Wales’ first qualified woman doctor
1886 Formation of Association for Promoting the Education of Girls in Wales
1892 Formation of Noth Wales Women’s Temperance Union.
1896 Reappearance of Y Gymraes (The Welshwoman)edited by Ceridwen Peris.
1897 Formation of National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
1901 Formation of South Wales Women’s Temperance Union.
1903 Formation of Women’s Social and Political Union.
1907 Organization of women’s suffrage campaign in North Wales
1912 Suffrage protest at Llanystumdwy involving Lloyd George
1914 First World War begins. Vast increase in numbers of women in waged work.
1918  Limited vote for women over 30.
1919 Sex Discrimination Removal Act.
  Elizabeth Andrews becomes Labour Party’s women’s organiser in Wales
1923 Price v.Rhondda. Court case confirms marriage bar for women teachers.
1926 General Strike. Pilgrimage of Peace.
1928 Votes for all women.
1930s Women take part in hunger marches
1939 Outbreak of Second World War – more employment opportunities for women.

The above are timelines, not lines of development. They tell us what happened, not what changed - or the reasons why changes occurred. Nevertheless, they are useful indicators of at least two ways in which the ‘story’ of the history of Wales over the last 150 years has been represented.


Section 1 Questions - How has the ‘story’ of women been presented?:

1. What kinds of events have been selected by the historians who produced the first timeline?
2. What kinds of events have been selected by the historian who produced the second timeline?
3. Why do you think these timelines differ?
4. How is the second timeline limited as an account of changes in the role and status of women in Wales between 1850 and 1940?
5. Using both the introductory information and the two timelines, can you explain why relatively little is known about the story of Welsh women over the 100 years before 1940?
 

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